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Baking disaster; Name droppings; Pangloss Cellars to Hotz Building; Bocuse d’Or event coming; Travels with Henri Episode No. 13

Baking disaster; Name droppings; Pangloss Cellars to Hotz Building; Bocuse d’Or event coming; Travels with Henri Episode No. 13

December 4, 2014

Yikes! Today’s missive marks my 300th column for the Index-Tribune.


Since our daughter and her family were coming for Thanksgiving, I decided to make chocolate chip scones for them, a breakaway from brother Kirk’s and my late mother’s traditional, or un-traditional, cranberry muffins. Not smart.

Knowing I am not an expert baker as is our daughter-in-law, Na Young Ma (Proof Bakery in Los Angeles), I looked for great scone recipes. Since I couldn’t find the tiny Scottish scone cookbook I bought in, you guess it, Scotland, I went with Irish food maven Darina Allen’s “Irish Traditional Cooking” book (2005) that son Mack gave me for Christmas in 2008. What could be better? Allen is the best known and most popular chef in Ireland and runs her super-duper Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork.

Allen offers her “Mummy’s Sweet White Scones,” but this recipe must either have a gross typo or a lack of testing.  It called for 8 cups of flour, 1.25 cups of milk, 3 free range eggs, ½ cup sugar, etc. The dough never really “balled” and it obviously needed more fluid, but I stuck with the directions, just as an experiment (unusual for me).

Instead of a cutter to press the rounds out of the dough, I used the top of a small canning jar, the old fashioned way. I followed instructions to a “t” even though the book assumes, as do many older cookbooks, that one knows what Allen means by a “hot oven” for 10 to 12 minutes.

So I did just that. After 10 to 12 minutes not much had happened. Same with 20 and 30. Chocolate chips didn’t soften or melt. The result was about 40 hard hockey pucks no one could bite into. And I know hockey pucks after a few years teaching in Canada. Still would love to visit Ballymaloe.


Jon Favreau, writer, director and star of current movie hit “Chef,” was spotted browsing through cookbooks last weekend at Readers’ Books.

Favreau is married to Dr. Joya Tillem and was here for Thanksgiving with Joya’s mother, Susan Tillem, one of the funniest New York transplants on earth.


Several Coppola family members and friends dropped into Sonoma Valley Museum of Art last weekend to experience mom Eleanor’s exhibition.


Fred Perry, a.k.a. “The Cookie King,” will bake his best and provide cheeses and wine for the Saturday, Dec. 6 reception opening Barbara White Perry’s latest exhibit of her giclées accompanied by holiday music and a bagpiper in the Hooker House Courtyard. The giclées are made from her most popular paintings and are on canvas with UV protection. Free. 1 to 4 p.m. Joseph Hooker House Gallery, off 414 First St. E., Sonoma. Barbarawhiteperry.com.


Slow Food Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Valley Grange invite everyone to their Cookie Exchange and soup fest with live music on Monday, Dec. 8. If you want, bring three dozen of your favorite holiday cookies or a pot of warm soup and all will be shared along with bread.

If you bring cookies, you take home two dozen of other people’s cookies. Bring your third dozen in a separate bag or container to be donated to Brown Baggers and Sonoma’s Meals on Wheels. For more info or to say you can help or bring soup, contact Margarita Ramirez-Dalton at margarita@travelingmatters.com or 939-7638 or (415) 328-5056(415) 328-5056. 18627 Sonoma Hwy., Boyes Hot Springs. Event 6 to 9 p.m.


Larson Family Winery, always helping so many young people, will host Santa and photos for everyone Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6 and 7. While there is no charge for the event, donations are encouraged and all money will go directly to care for Mikey Seeley, a local young man fighting Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. If you can’t get to the winery but want to help, go to www.gofundme.com/ekauyg to make a donation. P.S. Larson has a direct mailbox to Santa at the North Pole if you want to bring your letters. Santa at the winery Noon to 4 p.m. both days. 23355 Millerick Rd., Sonoma. michael@larsonfamiywinery.com.


Sonoma Chamber Ensemble, led by Dr. Brian Sebastian, will perform two concerts to benefit the Sonoma Community Center Saturday, Dec. 6 at Madrone Vineyards (formerly Valley of the Moon Winery) and Sunday, Dec. 7 at St. Andrew’s Church.

Madrone Vineyards’ Chef Peter Roadhouse will prepare substantial appetizers to be served at 5 p.m. with wine, followed by the concert from 6 to 7 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 6. ($100). On Sunday, Dec. 7 the Ensemble will sing their hearts out again at a family concert at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Church on Arnold Drive, accompanied by Basque cookies and coffee ($30). For tickets contact Mary Catherine at 938-4626, Ext. 4 or mc@sonomacommunitycenter.org.


Ramekins Culinary School invites people to a Holiday Family Brunch on Sunday, Dec. 7 complete with Santa Claus, cookie decorating, Christmas crafts, photos with Santa and lots of food including country eggs, artisan sausage, omelets, cinnamon raisin French toast, desserts, with coffee and hot cocoa included, plus mimosas, cocktails and wine available for purchase. $44 adults, children free. 10 a.m. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Register everyone in your party, even if kids are free, at 933-0450 or ramekins.com.


Williams-Sonoma offers some rare tastes next Thursday, Dec. 11 at their new/old store on Broadway in Sonoma. Chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, Ad Hoc, Bouchon, etc. and the U.S. 2015 Bocuse d’Or team’s assistant coach Grant Achatz, co-owner of Chicago’s Michelin three-star Alinea restaurant will be special guests. Many of you will remember Achatz and Alinea from the fabulous movie “Spinning Plates” shown three times at last year’s Sonoma International Film Festival.

The ”Road to Lyon” event will support the American team via the “ment’or BKB Foundation,” which was founded by Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Jérôme Bocuse, son of the great Paul Bocuse.  The team consists of French Laundry Chef Philip Tessier and his commis, Skylar Stover, who will compete in the Bocuse d’Or contest in Lyon, France and will prepare appetizers with teams from Bouchon and Ad Hoc.

Guests will enjoy tasty bites including tartare on deviled egg, pâté en brioche, and gougères with sauce Mornay, excellent wines and a cooking demonstration by Tessier and Stover. This is their final appearance before the January competition. $75. 6 to 8 p.m. 605 Broadway, Sonoma. Tickets at mentorbkb.org, or call 939-8974.


Also Thursday, Dec. 11 Sonoma Valley Republican Women will meet at The Lodge at Sonoma and lunch on butternut squash soup, skirt steak with mushroom sauce, gratin potatoes, asparagus and baby carrots, and chocolate cake while listening to former Assemblyman Don Sebastiani speak on “Where we were, where we are, where we’re headed.” Raffle and great silent auction of items left out of May fundraiser including some from local shops and restaurants. $30 or $32 if paying with credit card. 11 a.m. Reserve by calling Tina Grippi at 939-7994 or tjgrippi@sbcglobal.net.


Terry Miri, known by locally as a coffee shop aficionado, enjoyed a full-page feature in the “Food + Home” section of Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle written by old family friend Paolo Lucchesi.

It was a great story with color photos about Mirri’s fascination with and dedication to making his versions of old Italian wooden pasta forming tools such as corzetti stamps, pasta pins or mattarelli, many of which are produced primarily in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Working in his eastside shop, Mirri is possibly the only person still making these by hand.

Dedicated to keeping old Italian culinary traditions alive, Mirri grew up in South San Francisco and served as “South City’s” mayor for several years. Congratulations on a great feature.


Venture capitalist Christian Borcher plans to move his Pangloss Cellars tasting experience from the Poppi Building in downtown Glen Ellen to the Hotz Building in downtown Sonoma, sometime next year.

Borcher has leased the building, formerly occupied by Fred Favero’s Sonoma Enoteca, from Mary Ann and Richard Cuneo and has big plans for restoring the structure to its original look. Having grown up in Copenhagen, with an American university education, Borcher ran several companies in Europe and San Francisco.

Not wanting to create what he calls “a traditional tasting room,” he wants to “gently renovate” the edifice and create the feeling of “a lounge with couches, ottomans and big relaxing chairs in individual groupings” with what he calls “more square footage per person.”

Borcher’s partners in Pangloss include Jim Montazee and winemaker Erich Bradley, who serves as winemaker at both the unrelated Sojourn Cellars and Pangloss. They don’t count on tasting room visitors to buy their annual 3,000 cases of small batch wines. They want to “establish relationships and connection with people” who just might join their club, for which memberships are free.


Pop-ups continue popping up:

Sondra Bernstein’s pop-ups continue at Suite D on Schellville Rd. of Eighth St. East while her fig café is closed for remodeling.

Sunday, Dec. 7: fig and arugula salad with pancetta and Chèvre cheese; cassoulet with housemade sausage with flageolet beans and duck confit; Meyer lemon cheesecake with huckleberry compote.

Monday, Dec. 8: calamari with spicy lemon aioli, roasted half chicken with marble potatoes and frisée with creamy mustard vinaigrette, followed by fig bread pudding, salted caramel and buttermilk ice cream.

Tuesday, Dec. 9: apple and Little Gem salad with Blue de L’Aqueuille and walnuts, grilled hanger steak with blue cheese butter, frites and seasonal vegetables; chocolate banana cake with brandied bananas. $32. BYOW, no corkage. Reservations at Eventbrite.com.


Travels with Henri Episode No. 13

In Episode No. 12 I truly ran out of room again and had to postpone our dinner at Chef Charlotte’s barns.

Charlotte told me a story of selling her house in London and moving to a second floor apartment in St. Antonin with her children. Soon after she severely broke her leg skiing and was in a wheelchair for nearly a year. The fabulous part of the story was that the entire community took care of her and her family. She obviously still feels totally involved in the town and is active in many endeavors there including local theatre, as is Catherine the tea expert we visited.

She now lives about half an hour from Chateau Dumas with her newish British husband, Tom. We all climbed into a couple of cars and vans to ride to their home, having no idea what to expect. Those in the van were entertained both directions by Tony Eglin’s pun-filled humor, and the rest of us had a great time riding winding roads along the big white cliffs, thankful that someone else was driving and knew the way.

As we drove up to park, we are greeted by a massive shiny Harley-Davidson bike, set out in what appeared to be a phallic message of some sort. So we assumed it belonged to Tom, an occasional smoker and former Hollywood guy with great stories.

Were we ever wrong! It belongs to Charlotte’s lovely daughter Flora, a hospitality graduate fluent in French and English, who was not allowed to ride her Harley yet and actually was inside the main house cooking our dinner. As Charlotte said, “We cannot be in the kitchen together.”

Charlotte says they recently celebrated Flora’s 18th birthday for two days, including at the St. Antonin farmers market where vendors had prepared duck and foie gras sausages for Flora and had a gypsy band serenade her. Oh to have been there.

We began the evening in an ancient edifice from which they had removed most of two walls with white lounge furniture in the center, a raised kitchen and bar area, decorative lights everywhere, and a lot of Charlotte’s cookery collection lining the walls. I had arrived in heaven.

Tom poured us wine glasses filled with what appeared to be Champagne, if you weren’t paying attention. It tasted especially good and several of us got a quick little buzz. Must have been the Cognac floater.

Eventually someone lured us across the lawn to the even older stone barn, with a deep set fascinatingly and dramatically decorated room below we couldn’t figure out how to get to. Our long table included all of us, Henri, Lizzie Hulme’s mother, Joanna, who lives an hour away in France as well, and Catherine the tea expert.

Tom roasted what appeared to be several chickens, and they were served on platters with vast arrays of potatoes, onions and vegetables. Breads, cheeses followed, and of course salad. Lizzie’s mother explained to me that one must never cut a lettuce leaf. What to do? Fold it into bite size with your knife and fork. Which of course led to giggles and some creative lettuce origami.

Next week: Henri and the rest of us travel to the Toulouse flea market and lunch.

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